Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes


Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

(Corgi, 2014) Paperback. First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Bantam Press an imprint of Transworld Publishers. ISBN: 978-0-552-16096-4. 896 pages.

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Pilgrim is the code name of Scott Murdoch, a man whose true identity remains hidden under the various names he has used in his lifetime. Even his real name is not Scott Murdoch. Orphaned as a child, Scott was adopted by the Murdochs, a wealthy family who gave him a good education. During his last year at Harvard, Scott was recruited by one of the most secret intelligence services that has ever existed in the United States, where he reached the highest post in Europe. When the world changed after September 11, he retired from active service to live a comfortable and peaceful life. Now he has written a book on investigative techniques that has been published under a pen name. However, despite all his efforts to conceal his identity, a NYPD officer has been able to find his whereabouts. Lieutenant Ben Bradley from the homicide division is in charge of a murder investigation in a cheap hotel in Manhattan. He has read his book and has arrived to the conclusion that whoever committed this crime has scrupulously followed all the instructions given therein. As the plot unfolds, his country is going to need, once again, Scott Murdoch’s services to defend the United States from a terrorist attack of unknown proportions. His code name for this mission will be Pilgrim.

In a sense the book, a spy novel, deals with the changes the world has experienced in the last years. This was what interested me most. Specifically one can read in the book: ‘…he liked remembering the old days, when the enemy was the Soviets and everybody knew what the rules were…’ And later on, ‘You know we’ve outsourced everything in this country. Do we actually make anything any more? When you rely on imports for so much, there’s no security. Not real security.’ To end up with a very significant sentence. ‘A writer called Robert Louis Stevenson once said “sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences”.

Unfortunately I must admit my disappointment. Maybe my expectations were set too high. After a brilliant scene at the beginning of the book, I found too many inconsistencies in the plot. I have found that the timeline is entirely arbitrary. On 9/11, for example, some characters can be found simultaneously in different places. Some episodes are completely unbelievable in my view. I also found the book unnecessarily long and needs better editing. In particular, considerable attention is paid to some minor details that are totally irrelevant. The first person narrative by the main character has not bothered me, but I found it odd that the personal story of the second main character, Saracen, is also narrated by Scott Murdoch himself. Not to mention that most of the characters turn out stereotyped in excess. As a result it becomes a tale of good guys and bad guys and I had to struggle to finish reading.

My rating: a generous C (I enjoyed it with a some reservations)

I Am Pilgrim has been reviewed (more favourably in most cases) at Crime Thriller Girl, Euro Crime (Terry Halligan), Crimepieces (Sarah), Raven Crime Reads, Novel Heights, Crime Review (John Cleal), Clothes in Books (Moira), Bitter Tea and Mystery (TracyK) and Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan (Bill), among others.

Transworld Publishers 

The Random House Group

Simon & Schuster

Author Terry Hayes

Simon Mayo chat with author Terry Hayes (BBC2)

Terry Hayes page at Wikipedia

Yo soy Peregrino de Terry Hayes

Peregrino es el nombre en clave de Scott Murdoch, un hombre cuya verdadera identidad permanece oculta bajo los diversos nombres que ha utilizado en toda su vida. Incluso su nombre real no es Scott Murdoch. Huérfano desde niño, Scott fue adoptado por los Murdoch, una familia rica que le proporcionó una buena educación. Durante su último año en la Universidad de Harvard, Scott fue reclutado por uno de los servicios de inteligencia más secretos que jamas haya existido en los Estados Unidos, donde alcanzó el puesto más elevado en Europa. Cuando el mundo cambió el 11 de septiembre, se retiró del servicio activo para vivir una vida cómoda y tranquila. Ahora ha escrito un libro sobre técnicas de investigación que ha publicado bajo seudónimo. Sin embargo, a pesar de todos sus esfuerzos por ocultar su identidad, un oficial de la policía de Nueva York ha sido capaz de descubrir su paradero. El teniente Ben Bradley de la división de homicidios está a cargo de la investigación de un asesinato en un hotel barato en Manhattan. Ha leído su libro y ha llegado a la conclusión de quienquiera que haya cometido ese crimen ha seguido escrupulosamente todas las instrucciones que se detallan en el mismo. Conforme se desarrolla la trama, su país va a necesitar, una vez más, los servicios de Scott Murdoch para defender a los Estados Unidos de un ataque terrorista de proporciones desconocidas. Su nombre en clave para esta misión será Peregrino.

En cierto sentido, el libro, una novela de espías, se ocupa de los cambios que el mundo ha experimentado en los últimos años. Esto era lo que más me interesaba. Específicamente se puede leer en el libro: “… a él le gustaba recordar los viejos tiempos, cuando el enemigo eran los soviéticos y todo el mundo sabía cuáles eran las reglas …” Y más adelante: “Tú sabes que hemos externalizado todo en este país. ¿Acaso producimos ya alguna cosa? Cuando se confía tanto en las importaciones para todo, ya no existe seguridad alguna. No existe una seguridad verdadera.”  ‘Para terminar con una frase muy significativa. ‘Un escritor llamado Robert Louis Stevenson dijo en cierta ocasión: “tarde o temprano todos nos sentamos en un banquete de consecuencias”.

Por desgracia he de reconocer mi decepción. Quizás mis expectativas eran demasiado altas. Después de una escena brillante al comienzo del libro, encontré demasiadas inconsistencias en la trama. La línea temporal me ha parecido totalmente arbitraria. El 11/9, por ejemplo, algunos personajes resulta que se encontraban simultáneamente en lugares diferentes. Algunos episodios son totalmente increíbles en mi opinión. He encontrado también que el libro es innecesariamente largo y necesita una mejor edición. En concreto presta mucha atención a algunos detalles menores que resultan completamente irrelevantes. La narración en primera persona por el personaje principal no me ha molestado, pero me ha parecido extraño que la historia personal del segundo personaje principal, Sarraceno, también está narrada por el propio Scott Murdoch. Por no hablar de que la mayoría de los personajes resultan estereotipados en exceso. Como resultado se convierte en una historia de buenos y malos, y tuve que esforzarme por terminar su lectura.

Mi valoración: una generosa C (lo disfruté con algunas reservas)

9 thoughts on “Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

  1. Many thanks: your review has done a huge amount to clear my head. i’ve been putting off this book because it’s so effing long; maybe I should reconsider.

  2. Jose Ignacio: Thanks for the review.

    As you are aware I both enjoyed the book and had serious issues with the book. Overall I think Hayes does very swell at sweeping the story along and Saracen is a far more developed character than the evil characters in almost all modern thrillers.

    I find myself puzzled about one matter. Your post lists the book at 896 pages. My copy had 607 pages. I still found it long at 607 pages. Could the fonts have been that different?

    • Thank you Bill for your comment. I have the Corgi paperback edition, probably it has to do with the size of the book. Have checked both links above (Transworld Publishers and Simon & Schuster, which I presume is you edition) and there is very little information.

    • Thank you Sarah. I knew it, and that was probably one of the reasons that I read it. That things happen sometimes, even if I always have your opinions in great esteem, It’s not always possible to agree on everything. Fortunately, in my view. Otherwise, it would have been too boring, or even worse, clones of each other

  3. Pingback: New To Me Authors April-June 2014 | The Game's Afoot

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